December 20, 2013
With an early wake up of 6.30am we were ready to leave our Jerusalem hotel at last, after five nights of being confined to the hotel due to the snowstorm. I would say we all definitely had cabin fever. After Shacharit and our final gourmet buffet breakfast we boarded the buses and drove to the old city of Jerusalem covered in layers of snow.
The girls went to learn at a Midrasha and the boys went to study at a Yeshiva. The girls’ first speaker was a familiar face, Daniel Winer who was the year group’s Rosh Tzevet (head of program) at our Counterpoint camp earlier this year. His strong South African humor and love of Judaism kept us engaged throughout the Shiur (lesson) he gave. The talk focused on the concept of mind verses heart and the balance one needs to find between their logic and emotion. Following Daniel, the boys joined us for a combined talk from Rabbi Shmuel Ozekh, an ex-Moriah graduate who is actually coming to teach at the school next year! He spoke from a Kabbalistic viewpoint about how everything in life stems from one main source, G-d. Even the small things such as a pleasurable meal of steak was explained as an example of G-d’s gift to us.
After the interesting lessons, we were treated with the famous Marzipan bakeries specialty of Rugelach. I’ve never tasted such delicious, melt-in-your-mouth Rugelach! Once back to the real world after our surreal pastry experience, the famous jewelry label that we had been waiting to purchase for weeks had come to take our orders. The ‘Hadaya’ company is famous for engraving personal quotes or messages on a piece of jewelry. As expected, as soon as the representative came, the girls frenzied to place their orders. Everyone else was given free time to eat their lunches at the Rova square in the middle of the old city.
The atmosphere was typical of the old city, with wild dirty cats prancing the streets, young children running errands for their parents and busker’s playing the guitar. When we were finished we walked back through the lane ways, making sure not to slip on the icy roads. Before leaving the old city we made one final stop. Everyone stood in the middle of a lane surrounded by buildings made from the now very familiar Jerusalem stone. A small monument stood on one side of the alleyway, which commemorated fallen soldiers of the War of Independence who were buried there, as they were unable to be transported out of the old city during the war. Later, their bones were moved to the cemetery on Mount Olives where they still lie today.
Next we did something unusual for us on IST and went bowling. With excitement in the air, everyone made their way up to the alley (we squished around 20 people in the elevator) and divided into teams of six people. It was a lot of fun bowling with our friends alongside music in the background that we all sung or shouted along to. I even felt at home when I saw that the ball machine had the letters ‘AMF’ on them, which was the bowling alley back in Sydney. Once we played our rounds and bragged about our high scores, everyone rushed to the arcade to play the games and make great use of the cafe. Once our time had come to an end we all hopped on the bus for one last time and made the two hour journey to our new hotel in Netanya, easily accessible to Tel Aviv which is a entirely different scenery to what we have been exposed to and a new city to discover over the next few days.